Public Release: 

JDRF to establish an autoimmunity center at University of Colorado Denver

JDRF

AURORA, Colo. (Jan. 28, 2008) -Researchers at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado Denver have new resources in their fight against type 1 diabetes: The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has approved funding for the establishment of a JDRF Autoimmunity Center at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, only the seventh in the nation. The Autoimmunity Center will receive approximately $1 million a year over the next five years to further fund research leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The goal of this partnership is to utilize the Barbara Davis Center's resources in collaboration with JDRF's to create an Autoimmunity Center to develop therapies specifically aimed at immunoprevention of type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that develops when the body's immune system mistakenly targets the beta cells of the pancreas, the cells that make insulin.

"The JDRF Center will bring together faculty with complementary expertise and knowledge to advance the understanding of pathogenesis diabetes in animals and humans as well as allow us to implement trials in human subjects based on the results," said John Hutton, PhD, research director at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado Denver and principal investigator on the grant. "We have learned an immense amount in the past 20 years about the causes of the disease and have sophisticated genetic and immunological assays to predict it -- the challenge is how to translate this knowledge into effective therapies, particularly those aimed at circumventing the progression of autoimmunity to clinical disease. The JDRF Center will help us tremendously with addressing this challenge."

"We are delighted to establish the JDRF Autoimmunity Center at the Barbara Davis Center," said Teodora Staeva, Ph.D. Program Director, Autoimmunology, at JDRF. "This JDRF Center will focus on developing novel antigen-specific approaches to predict, prevent, and possibly reverse type 1 diabetes."

The JDRF Center brings together a team of basic scientists and clinical researchers, and includes Dr. Hutton, along with George Eisenbarth, MD, PhD; Peter Gottlieb, MD; Howard Davidson, PhD; and Danny Zipris. The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes will be the administrative hub of this JDRF Autoimmunity Center.

Two of the three main research projects will investigate the new autoantigen, ZnT8 -- a recently discovered fourth antigenic specificity recognized by an antibody in human blood that will help more accurately predict who is predisposed to type 1 diabetes. The initial research and discovery was led by Dr. Hutton and his research team at the Barbara Davis Center, and supported by the Childhood Diabetes Foundation in Denver.

A clinical trial will be conducted in children with extreme risk of developing type 1 diabetes using an insulin-based vaccination procedure aimed at preventing the occurrence of autoimmunity that inevitably leads to diabetes. A second trial is planned in the future based on ZnT8 and will develop similar prevention strategies.

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About the University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado Denver is one of three universities in the University of Colorado system. Located in Denver on the Downtown Campus and at Ninth & Colorado Blvd., and on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., University of Colorado Denver is Colorado's premier research university offering more than 100 degrees and programs in 13 schools and colleges and serving more than 28,000 students in Metro Denver and online. For more information, visit the web site at www.ucdhsc.edu or the UC Denver Newsroom at http://www.uchsc.edu/news.

About JDRF

JDRF was founded in 1970 by the parents of children with type 1 diabetes -- a disease that strikes children, adolescents, and adults suddenly, makes them insulin dependent for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. Since inception, JDRF has provided more than $1.16 billion to diabetes research worldwide. More than 85 percent of JDRF's expenditures directly support research and research-related education. JDRF's mission is constant: to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications through the support of research. For more information please visit www.jdrf.org

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